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  • Bucknell University Democratic Socialists

Conservatives at Bucknell have an Insecurity Problem

I had a few questions that will never be answered by A Night With the Presidents. I suppose you all had them too.


Why do we have a speaker coming to this campus that actively works to undermine the stories of victim-survivors? Why do we have a speaker which denies the reality of marginalized people in this country? Why did BPALC, in coordination with the President’s Office and members of both the student body and faculty wish to platform such a character as Heather Mac Donald? Why is there a crisis of leadership on both the issues of climate action and inclusion on this campus?


The answer is that conservatives on this campus are in power, although they would like to deny it.


Some conservatives at Bucknell have an insecurity problem. Conservatives have a status conferred only to the sacred. They claim weakness, but strongarm this campus to a grinding halt on any substantial progress or change. Conservatives on this campus and the system they defend are not only allowed to exist but are also allowed to have continual privilege over the safety of victim-survivors and marginalized peoples.


They are protected through claims of free speech, but the campus’ knee-jerk reaction to allowing and then platforming conservative speech involves with it value claims about the perceived strength and necessity of racist and marginalizing viewpoints at this institution. By platforming this sort of speech, we say to the community of victim-survivors and marginalized peoples that it’s okay that their identities and realities are constantly debated. Questions about marginalization must always bring into the fore questions about power, and whose ideology is promoted when we promote and exclude certain kinds of speech.


There is absolutely no marginalization of conservatism on this campus because they are already entirely institutionalized. They are entirely in power. They are on the Board of Trustees, they are our President, they are our office directors. It is partly the money of rich white alumni that brings speakers like these to our campus, it is their power which is shown through this sort of dehumanizing speech.


The administration and conservatives sometimes rely on the buzzwords of diversity and ‘sympathize’ with activists on this campus, but always refuse to take leadership on the climate crisis, reaching defendable standards regarding inclusion and empowerment of marginalized communities, or eliminating the grotesque rape culture which exists on this campus. There is no true leadership on this campus which recognizes the importance of these issues because their worldview is informed by societal myth, privilege, and white supremacy. The administration will never do anything which challenges their way of thinking about the issues real students, faculty, and staff face.


John Bravman said he was outraged at the size of the crowd at Take Back the Night. Where is the equivalent outrage for platforming marginalizing and dangerous hate speech?


I think both the former and the latter say a lot about the University and the state of marginalized power on this campus. There is no speech that doesn’t have consequences. There is no platform that doesn’t provide legitimacy. There is no way that the recent actions of conservatives on this campus are morally justifiable. The administration calls itself our ally and advocate, but quickly backtracks when it comes to rejecting the oppressor and raising the voices of marginalized communities.


The conservatives in the student body, faculty, and administration have a lot of power to lose, and they will always challenge activists by reminding us that the changes that we’re calling for make them politically uncomfortable and, to them, are not feasible. For them, the questions we have, at their core, challenge the pathologies of societal myth, privilege, and white supremacy which maintain conservative power.


Make yourself comfortable in the fact that you’re not challenging some defenseless, endangered political minority. You’re challenging the institutions that conservative power has generated and perpetuated, and those people and institutions are predators of justice, plain and simple. We won’t take their excuses anymore. It was never about the comfort of the Bucknell administration or the campus conservatives. The campus is ours, not theirs, and people deserve to feel safe in a place they call their home.

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